His whistle chirped softly as Ama Gonsalves made his way down the sidelines, Saturday.
School is over for the summer and Gonsalves, garbed in a white referee’s shirt, quietly motored his wheelchair along the sideline stripe as Anahola cheerleaders, garbed in their distinctive orange shirts, hustled the team as the first half of the Enforcers division came to an end.
“He’s a veteran of the Kaua‘i Police Activities League,” said Mark Ozaki, one of the K-PAL leaders who was on the field for the flag football games. “He’s been with K-PAL from before he became a freshman.”
Gonsalves, who will be a senior at Kapa‘a High School when school resumes, is a familiar figure at Kapa‘a events, his wheelchair has a spot with the baseball team in its dugout.
A mishap when he dove off a tree at Wailua River several years ago confines him to a wheelchair. His heart and love for athletics, however, soars in the wind that cools the players on the field.
“He has a spare ball,” Bobby Thompson, the head referee for the Enforcer game, said. “And look at this. He even has a spot for the flag.”
Thompson whipped out the familiar yellow penalty flag from a pouch on the side of the motorized wheelchair.
“He’s here. You just have to keep him involved,” Ozaki said.
That involvement also brings growth to the flag football program as Ozaki noted that Kalaheo is one of the programs that is new to the program, and currently growing.
“They’re new, but already, they have 24 players registered in the 5-6 age group,” he said. “On top of that, they have two teams with 18 players each in the 7-8 age group, and two cheer teams as well.”
K-PAL football continues on Saturday starting at 8 a.m. at the Vidinha Stadium soccer fields. On June 23, games will move to the Hanapepe Stadium.